After his show The Paris Ball mixing dance and virtual reality, the Madrid choreographer and member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Blanca Li, revisits Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet, Nutcracker. A hip-hop Christmas tale where the “nutcracker” has become a robot, the little girl Clara gives way to a group of young people. The Spaniard, known for her interbreeding between different worlds, is once again inspired by urban culture. The event is expected on December 2 and 3, at the Théâtre de l’Esplanade, in Draguignan then on December 15 and 16 at Anthéa, in Antibes.
Why revisit Nutcracker?
Ever since I was little, I’ve loved this piece. I’ve seen it a lot, it’s the imaginary world. I wanted to rewrite it in a different language. I wondered what it would be like if we mobilized hip-hop instead to tell the same story. This is still very abstract. It allows you to go into magical worlds, which you can imagine in a different way. I told myself that hip-hop could really work well to tell it.
Precisely we have the image of a very classic ballet. What does hip-hop bring?
He brings a new vision of this work for which we always have a memory linked to classical dance. The work is seen differently, hip-hop allows another memory.
What did you want to say with this adaptation?
I kept Tchaikovsky’s music, but not the entire ballet. I made a selection of the parts that I like the most, keeping the narrative and the really important things in the story. All in today’s context. Instead of a family Christmas party, it’s a group of friends in an apartment who get together to celebrate Christmas. One of the boys has his little sister and everyone brings presents. At first they party with today’s music. And then there’s the “nutcracker” that comes with the gifts. From there, everything changes. An imaginary world with the story of The Nutcracker, the marvelous music of Tchaikovsky. Hip-hop will become a dance that tells this story.
You don’t use all of Tchaikovsky’s score. How did you make the selection?
The greatest musical parts of the ballet have been retained. The hits! And there are many! I worked with the orchestra of the Comunidad de Madrid to record all the music. A score was thus designed with the musical director. She adapts with parts at the beginning that are not in the original work.
Why a robot?
I wanted to update the gift. This nutcracker had to be different. The classic little wooden nutcracker is received as a gift but right after comes another nutcracker, a humanoid robot that works with a command. This robot dances, it does a lot of things. Everyone has fun with him. It is this one who, when night falls, will become the nutcracker of the story, the prince.
We discover popping but also breaking. A dance that will make its debut at the Paris 2024 Olympics. What does that mean to you?
I’ve always had this feeling that breaking was going in a more sporty direction, even though it’s a very artistic dance. In view of the complexity, the technique necessary for this dance, the way it has evolved, as well as the competitions which have become very important, I find this evolution natural. It is a highly competitive sport. It arrives at the Olympics but, at the same time, remains a dance which can, as here in Nutcracker, tell a story. Very few sports in the world can be both highly competitive and something so artistic. That’s what makes it beautiful.
Film director, dancer, actress, choreographer. What drives you the most?
Dance is where all stories are born. It’s my engine! Films are often linked to dance, the collaboration with visual artists is there because there is always movement. Everything starts from the same place. Dance is very important in my life.
From 6 years old. Duration: 1h15.
> Friday December 2, at 8.30 p.m., and Saturday December 3, at 6 p.m. Esplanade Theater in Draguignan. Prices: €26, reduced €16. Info. 04.94.50.59.59.
> Thursday 15 December, at 8 p.m. and Friday 16 December, at 8.30 p.m. Anthea in Antibes. Prices: from €14 to €40. Info. 04.83.76.13.13. www.anthea-antibes.fr